The Vatican was stunned by the Irish government decision to close down their Embassy to the Holy See and oversee future diplomatic relations from Dublin.
Reuters reports that the Irish informed the Vatican only hours before the decision was made public and relations between the two are at an all time low.
Top Vatican officials up to and including the pope were said to be “deeply irritated” by the Irish move which the government said was due to cost efficiencies.
However, top diplomats from other embassies in Rome believe that without the church sex abuse scandals the embassy would never have been closed.
"This is really bad for the Vatican because Ireland is the first big Catholic country to do this and because of what Catholicism means in Irish history," a Vatican diplomatic source told the news agency.
Vatican officials fear that other countries will follow suit because of the cost of keeping two embassies in Rome, one accredited to the Vatican, the other to the Italian government
A Vatican source said Ireland only informed the Vatican shortly before the announcement was made on Thursday night.
Dublin's foreign ministry said the embassy was being closed because "it yields no economic return" and that relations would be continued with an ambassador in Dublin.
The source said the Vatican was "extremely irritated" by the wording equating diplomatic missions with economic return, particularly as the Vatican sees its diplomatic role as promoting human values.
Irish Government has denied that Ireland’s failing relationship with the Catholic Church had anything to do with the decision to shut the Irish embassy in the Vatican. They maintain its closure is entirely down to the cost-cutting programme prompted by Ireland’s EU-IMF bailout.
Ireland’s decision to close the embassies in Timor Leste, Iran and the Vatican will save the country around $1.6 million per year.
Eamon Gilmore, the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Ireland’s National Broadcaster, RTE : “That was not a consideration.
“Our diplomatic relations with the Vatican will continue and they are valued.”
More news story on the Catholic Church in Ireland from IrishCentral
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Last July the Vatican recalled its ambassador in Ireland after Prime Minister Enda Kenny accused the Holy See of obstructing investigations into sexual abuse carried out by Catholic priests in Ireland.
However Gilmore insisted: “The fact that we have chosen to close our mission in the Vatican and to have it serviced from Dublin doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t have a Papal Nuncio here.”
He also said it was “one of those regrettable decisions we have had to make."
On Thursday, Ireland’s Primate Cardinal Sean Brady expressed his “profound disappointment" with the Government’s decision embassy to the Vatican.
He said this decision “means that Ireland will be without a resident Ambassador to the Holy See for the first time since diplomatic relations were established ... in 1929."
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